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By Leno Cavarra, Client Executive Manager – Australia & New Zealand, Veolia Water Technologies

It has become increasingly clear that hydrogen is poised to play a pivotal role in sculpting a sustainable future. As industries across the spectrum recognise hydrogen’s potential as an alternative energy source, the buzz around this versatile element is undeniable. From transportation to energy production, hydrogen’s applications seem boundless. However, as with all things, there is a need to strike a balance between its potential and environmental sustainability. 

The hydrogen production process and its many ‘colours’

Interestingly, hydrogen is both the lightest and the most abundant element in the universe. As a dynamic energy carrier, hydrogen has the potential to decarbonise various sectors, owing to its unique properties. Imagine fuelling heavy transport vehicles with hydrogen, or replacing fossil fuels in power generation and heat production. The possibilities are vast, and the reduction in emissions is significant.

While hydrogen is invisible and colourless, the gas is subdivided into different colour categories depending on its method of production and the carbon emissions associated with it.

In the quest for environmental sustainability, green hydrogen emerges as the clear winner, helping businesses align with global sustainability objectives. While it is considered a key solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a sustainable energy future, the adoption of green hydrogen depends on the availability and cost-effectiveness of renewable energy and water sources.

  • Grey Hydrogen: Produced from natural gas (methane) through steam reforming, grey hydrogen is the most common form, but carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted during production.
  • Black & Brown Hydrogen: Made from coal (black from bituminous coal, and brown from lignite), these are the most environmentally damaging forms of hydrogen that release both CO2 and carbon monoxide (CO), which are not typically recaptured.
  • White Hydrogen: White hydrogen is a naturally occurring version found underground, but it is rare, and there are few viable methods of extraction.
  • Blue Hydrogen: Generated from natural gas (which is similar to grey hydrogen), the carbon emissions are captured and stored underground using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. While it is often called “carbon-neutral”, some emissions (10-20 per cent) may still be released, making it more accurately described as “low carbon”. 
  • Turquoise Hydrogen: Produced through a process called methane pyrolysis, this form of hydrogen generates solid carbon without the need for CCS. It is still in the experimental phase and has the potential to reduce emissions.
  • Pink Hydrogen: Produced through electrolysis of water powered by nuclear energy. It can be considered a clean form of hydrogen, and the extreme temperatures from nuclear reactors could also be used in other hydrogen production processes.
  • Yellow Hydrogen: Generated through electrolysis of water using solar power or mixed energy sources, depending on availability. Its environmental impact may vary based on the energy sources used.
  • Green Hydrogen: Considered the most climate-friendly form, it is produced through electrolysis of water using renewable energy sources like solar or wind power. This method does not emit any CO2 during production and is entirely sustainable and clean.

The importance of water in green hydrogen production

Australia, with its potential for vast renewable energy infrastructure, is on the cusp of becoming a global leader in green hydrogen production. However, the role of water in this production process often goes unnoticed. The water industry is instrumental in supporting the burgeoning green hydrogen sector. When seeking a water technology specialist, three qualities stand out: technological expertise, local environmental knowledge, and comprehensive water treatment capabilities.

Understanding water’s pivotal role in green hydrogen production is crucial for project success. Comprehensive water management, from sourcing to treatment, ensures efficient and sustainable green hydrogen production. 

As the demand for green hydrogen surges, the need for the correct water technology to guarantee electrolyser performance becomes evident. But what should you look for in a water technology specialist?

  1. Technological expertise and proven solutions: Producing large volumes of ultra pure water is not a straightforward matter. A specialist should be equipped to address challenges related to source water, pre-treatment, heat integration, and more. Their expertise can ensure a smoother project journey and the efficient production of green hydrogen.
  2. Local knowledge with a global perspective: The local environment, including seasonal changes in water temperature, salinity, and quality, can impact green hydrogen production. A specialist should be familiar with these local nuances but also bring experience from global projects to the table.
  3. A comprehensive approach: Managing multiple vendors can be cumbersome. An all-in-one water management partner can streamline the process, ensuring every aspect of water treatment is covered.

A leader in this space, Veolia Water Technologies offers holistic water management solutions that are vital for the green hydrogen industry’s growth. Our team has been actively participating in conversations at trade events across Europe and the Middle East, and we’ll continue engaging the industry at the Asia Pacific Hydrogen Summit 2023 as well. We’re committed to driving innovative solutions for a greener future, and our experts are anticipating the day Hydrogen accelerates into the mainstream energy sector.

The green future beckons

The environmental advantages that green hydrogen offers over its traditional counterparts are undeniable. As we march towards a future with net-zero emissions, green hydrogen emerges as the beacon of hope for a carbon-neutral future. Water plays a critical role in ensuring the success of green hydrogen projects, and key players in the water treatment industry, like Veolia Water Technologies, will be instrumental in propelling the move towards this promising horizon.

Veolia’s expertise in water treatment extends beyond purification and management. Our team of water treatment specialists offer total water management solutions and support that includes the services an organisation may require for the operation and maintenance of a water treatment plant, and a comprehensive suite of solutions to help businesses adopt sustainable and eco-friendly practices.

This sponsored editorial was brought to you by Veolia. To discover how Veolia can work with you to realise your company’s hydrogen production projects, visit anz.veoliawatertechnologies.com/core-markets/hydrogen-production or reach out at leno.cavarra@veolia.com.

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